Friday, March 27, 2009

Sending Pages Out to Dry Part 4 of 5

The thought energized me again. One the way back to 3rd Street, I swung into the Midtown Post Office and mailed the oldest books to a high school friend in Long Beach, asking that they be dumped on the shore. Long Beach was the only part of New York in which I’d ever felt at home. I’d discovered during the course of this day that I’d had had a sympathy with the older books. Or the younger me. My arms hurt; my fingers were cramped from holding the handle of the plastic bag; my back ached. All I now wanted for those girlish purple scrawls was a decent burial.
The books still remaining were the most recent, those from Pershing Point. When they’d kicked everyone off the Point, I moved further down the street, figuring if I stayed on Peachtree, I could still live the Point life, which was one of meals eaten in cafes with friends met passing by. At the Point I had relaxed and considered myself home at last. When the eviction notice had come, it hurt so much my only balm was an open heart. I could relive the days spent there by setting them down.
I stood at the demolition site, in fascination with the way the building was coming down, brick by brick. It had been built to last. As had I. I tucked the last of my books between deconstructed walls. I had become what was written.
Across the street is the only ice-cream parlor in town that sells Bassett’s pistachio. I hurried over and ordered a double.

It was dark and very cold when I finally reached the high rise. Only the suburban books were left on the shelves and a midtown journal I’d fnished the week before New Year’s. I tossed the suburbs down the garbage chute and shredded the final book burning thepieces in the bathroom. At last I was playing with matches.
Later that night I dusted the void where the books had stood. The bravado hat had kep me going all day was gone; the voice leading me along my route quiet. I cleaned with a mix of Pledge and tears, past thinking of what I had done, knowing only that never had I felt so empty.
Winter passed and an aching, fickle spring took its places and for a long time I waited for the signs and clues that my abandoned books had been found. I no longer lay in bed reading but cleaned steadily, every week, as I had once been taught. One day I washed the walls and did the windows. Another day I turned out the closets and painted the bedroom radiator a bright red. For myself I took up running and by the first heat wave was up to three miles. I ran mostly alone but sometimes my steps would catch up or slow down and I would talk to strangers.
Finally, months after the event, there came another Saturday of note. Late in the afternoon while resting after stripping the floors, I drank iced tea and watched the sun glow red against my bookshelves. A friend had given me a new diary, brocade cover---very gaudy and satin. It made me laugh just to look at it. I picked up a pen. Only this time, instead of my writing to the book, the book wrote to me.

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